Georgia Hoodye Cheatham is honored at halftime during the Texas State Women’s basketball game against South Alabama. Cheatham was one of the five black students that attended then Southwest Texas State and broke the color barrier here at school.
Photo provided by Texas State
Dr. Johnny E. Brown met with the Texas State Men’s Basketball team before their game against Old Dominion. Brown was the first black student athlete to attend and play for Texas State.
Photo provided by Texas State
Bobcat basketball celebrates Black History Month
During Black History Month, both the Texas State Men’s and Women’s basketball teams are able to honor significant achievements by student athletes and other students who pave the way for generations of black students to attend Texas State.
Head women’s coach Zenarae Antoine, the first black women to be the head coach of the women’s basketball program and who is the all time winningest coach in Bobcat Women’s Basketball history, said she saw Black History Month as a way to honor those in the past.
“Anytime we recognize great Americans it’s a positive,” Antoine said. “Anytime you spotlight positive behavior, it’s good for everybody. Whether it be us nationally or here at Texas State, showing support for each other and showing support for both students and student-athletes of color, specifically women, it’s great to show the positives.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Terrence Johnson wants the month to not only be just learning about black history in February but all the time.
“That is the goal,” Johnson said. “You want representation and appreciation. You want to be included. You want to get to the point where it’s not just a month and the history of this country is being told no matter the color of anybody’s skin. For our young people, it’s important for them to know where they come from so they can know who they are and where they are going.”
Despite the success the women’s team is having on the court, Antoine is also proud of what her players are doing off the court.”
“We have so many doing well outside of basketball,” Antoine said. “We have quite a few young women on this team who are Bobcats that receive their undergraduate degree and now, in addition to that, are on their masters programs. Those are really positive things that can be recognized across the board and more specifically Texas State Women of Color.”
One of the first people honored this month was former Southwest Texas athlete Dr. Johnny E. Brown who was the first black athlete to attend the university from 19661970.
Before the Bobcats game against Old Dominion, Brown was able to talk to the players about not only his experience at SWT, but also offer advice that players could take moving forward.
“He talked about championship mentality,” Johnson said. “Taking advantage of the best years of your life so they (players) can take full advantage of that. He also talked about practice habits and how the way you want to practice is the way you want to play. Being obedient by listening to the parents and coaches. Finally, just being grateful for the ones who paved the way for them. It was great to have him during shootaround. All the players were really surprised that sometimes the first African American to do anything is still alive, but we are in the United States of America, so there are plenty of firsts to do that people are still alive.”
Senior guard Mason Harrell learned about Brown’s experience on campus and how Texas State is changing for the better.
“He taught us about the game and the things he had to go through when he attended Texas State,” Harrell said. “Racial things of that sort and everything in between. He also told us that this was a nice university and how a lot has changed since he’s been here.”
Junior forward Nate Martin learned how to be appreciative of the little things.
“Just to be thankful for what we have,” Martin said. “He didn’t have a lot of this stuff or this opportunity when he was playing here so I’m just thankful for that.”
During the women’s game against South Alabama, Texas State honored the “First Five.”
The First Five were the first black students who attended Southwest Texas in 1963 and predated Brown by three years.
Dana Smith, Gloria Odom, Mabeleen Washington, Helen Jackson and Georgia Faye Hoodye, who attended the halftime ceremony, all attended the university and earned their degrees as well.
Seeing the First Five gave graduate senior guard Kennedy Taylor some spark and is more than happy to continue the work the First Five started for the generation of athletes behind her.
It’s very motivational,” Taylor said. “We go out everyday knowing that we are playing for something bigger than ourselves. I’m just happy to be paving the way for the younger athletes coming up.”
As Antoine said, Black History Month is a great way of introducing people who made their mark in history.
“Black History Month is about being able to spotlight great Americans and the unsung heroes people don’t necessarily know,” Antoine said. “For the Texas State community, black, white, Hispanic, and across the board, just to know we have representation and it’s growing is really important. It helps us move forward and work together.”
The same could be said for Johnson.
“It’s very important,” Johnson said. “I hope one day that we will have Black History Month and will have something that is written in the history books instead of being taken out of it or inappropriately taught. ... That’s what this is, so for a month, we take the time to recognize and appreciate. We will take the month.'